Saturday 16 December 2017

Paraplegic in 3-day desert ordeal

Ricky Gilmore shows the pair of trousers he was wearing when he dragged himself four miles down a road (AP/The Daily Times, Augusta Liddic)
Ricky Gilmore shows the pair of trousers he was wearing when he dragged himself four miles down a road (AP/The Daily Times, Augusta Liddic)

A paraplegic man who says he was stranded in the New Mexico desert without his wheelchair dragged himself four miles down a dirt road for three days before a motorist stopped to help him.

Tattered and dirty, Ricky Gilmore's jeans told part of the story and his body the rest - the skin on his left leg and buttocks shredded, a wrist sprained and his kidneys in bad shape from going without food and water.

"Ah man, I'm just a big mess. I ache and I'm just in the first stages of healing," he said from his hospital bed at the Northern Navajo Medical Centre in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Mr Gilmore, 49, is being treated for acute kidney failure from dehydration, a sprained wrist and a blood infection. He spent two days in intensive care and it could be at least another week before he can go home.

The Farmington Daily Times first reported Mr Gilmore's story. He was found along a seldom-travelled road on the Navajo Nation about 10 miles from his home in Newcomb, on the eastern side of the reservation.

Mr Gilmore said he was dropped in the desert by a couple in a white truck whom he met while he was hitchhiking. He had invited them to his home for steaks and they later went for what he thought was going to be a joyride. When he refused to share his alcohol with them, Mr Gilmore said the man grabbed him by his feet and threw him out of the truck while parked along the desolate road.

It was early evening and Mr Gilmore had no wheelchair, no food, no water and no coat to help him endure the flat desert scrubland. "It was dark and I was shivering and the wind was blowing so I just crawled to a bush and dug in right there. It was cold that night," he said.

But with the sunrise, survival mode kicked in. "I started dragging myself. I did the same thing all day and I only got about two miles," he said.

After spending a second night at the side of the road, he said he woke up sore and thirsty and did not want to move. "I could have easily gave up and said forget it, but I said, 'I'm not going to freeze out here' and I just kept on going," said Mr Gilmore, who lives by himself and lost the use of his legs in a car crash years ago.

On the third afternoon, a man in a blue pick-up truck stopped and called for help. Mr Gilmore said doctors told him his body temperature was 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.5 Celsius) when he was found. "I don't think I would have made it another night," he said.

Press Association

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